Active Efforts Case out of the Nebraska Court of Appeals


NICWA, however, adds two additional elements the State must prove before terminating parental rights in cases involving Indian children. In re Interest of Walter W., supra. First, the State must prove by clear and convincing evidence that active efforts have been made to prevent the breakup of the Indian family and that these efforts have proved unsuccessful. See § 43-1505(4); see also In re Interest of Walter W., supra. Second, the State must prove by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, including testimony of qualified expert witnesses, that the continued custody of the child by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child. See § 43-1505(6).


Although the record indicates that for the first two years this case was pending in the juvenile court, there is some question about whether the Department was doing as much as it “possibly could have been” under an active efforts standard, it is clear that for the last two years this case was pending, the Department was providing Louisa with active efforts toward achieving reunification with her children. Despite the two years of active efforts, Louisa failed to make significant or sustainable progress towards reunification. Moreover, while we recognize that during the beginning stages of the juvenile court case the Department may have failed to provide active efforts, this does not mean that the Department failed to provide any efforts. The record is clear that Louisa has been receiving services from the Department since prior to the petition being filed in this case in November 2011. Despite all of those efforts, coupled with the Department’s recent active efforts, Louisa has not made progress towards reunification with her children. Louisa’s assertion that she has not been given enough time to turn her life around is simply without merit.


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